Supreme Court to consider rolling back minority protections in Voting Rights Act

The Supreme Court said Friday that it will consider whether laws designed to protect minority voters are unconstitutional.

The announcement comes just days after an election that demonstrated the increasing electoral clout of black and Hispanic voters, who helped propel President Obama to a second term.

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It's against that backdrop that the court will consider rolling back part of the Voting Rights Act, first passed in 1965, to prevent states from disenfranchising minorities. Specifically, the justices will hear a challenge to the section of the Voting Rights Act that requires certain states with a history of discrimination to get permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.

It's the second racially charged case of the court's term — the justices have already heard oral arguments in a case challenging the use of race in college admissions. Gay marriage is also likely to come before the court in its current term, perhaps through a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.

In the context of affirmative action, Chief Justice John Roberts has questioned the need to continue policies that could be seen as holdovers from past generations, when the country was less diverse and the scars of segregation were more recent.